Speeding Up Acrobat Reader

If you dread opening PDF files found in search results because of Acrobat Reader’s painfully sluggish startup time, take heart: A nifty free utility tweaks Acrobat to load in a flash.

The Adobe Reader SpeedUp utility is an application from programmer Joe Cox that takes the pain out of waiting for PDF documents to load. How does it work?

Start up your version of Acrobat reader—see all of those plugins that are loading while you sit back and wait for the program to start? According to Cox, the majority of those plugins “are, quite franky, completely useless for most users.” The Adobe Reader SpeedUp Utility simply disables the loading of most plugins, without altering Acrobat in any other way.

To install the program, visit Cox’s download page and click the link for Adobe Reader SpeedUp. This starts the download of a zip file—unzip the contents of the file into its own folder. Then, use the Windows Run command to execute the file “Reader SpeedUp.exe” in your new folder.

A “welcome” dialog gives you two options: SpeedUp and Restore Original Configuration. Select SpeedUp to install. The Restore Original Configuration option allows you roll back the changes to Acrobat’s default settings if for some reason you find a need to load all of the Adobe configured plugins.

The next screen shows a list of all of the plugins the Acrobat Reader loads on startup. If you’re certain you need specific plugins to view some of your documents, you can manually select those you want to enable.

The easier approach is to choose a speed up mode: Fast, Turbo or Bare. I chose Fast, which is the recommended mode. That’s all there is to it. Every time you run Acrobat from now on, no more agonizing wait.

How much difference does it make? On my Thinkpad laptop, it used to take about ten seconds for Acrobat 6 to load. Now it loads virtually instantly. Yeah!

Adobe Reader SpeedUp works with all versions of Acrobat starting with version 3. If you run the program and then upgrade to a newer version of Acrobat, you can run Adobe Reader SpeedUp again to disable the startup plugins in the new version.

Requires Windows and Acrobat Reader, Version 3.0 – 7.x. If the program gives you an error when you try to run it, then you likely need the Microsoft Visual Basic Runtimes pack. Download it here.

Hat tip to Anil for the find.

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